According to the CDC 35 states reported widespread influenza cases this week, up from 10 states the week before.
The good news is that most Florida counties are reporting only mild influenza activity in the first few weeks of 2014.
The not so good news is that unlike past seasons in which the disease affected the very young and the very old, the group most vulnerable this season are people in their 30’s and 40’s. In addition, there has been a recent increase in the number of pregnant women presenting to emergency rooms for care.
None of those sick enough to require hospitalization in the intensive care unit had received the 2013-2014 influenza vaccine despite the fact that the vaccine is a good match for the 2009 H1N1 Influenza A subtype.
According to Florida Department of Health 177 people have died of flu or pneumonia related illness last week alone.
Typical symptoms include sudden onset of fever over 100 degrees Farhenheit, body aches, headache, eye pain, loss of appetite and fatigue. Dry cough, runny nose and sore throat generally become more evident as the fever wanes. Influenza A usually does not cause GI symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Florida health officials plan to keep close tabs on the flu as the season proceeds and more people are affected across the country.
Best advice is to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. Even if the vaccine does not completely prevent the flu, it should reduce the severity of flu symptoms and decrease the risk of complications.
In terms of prevention, the CDC recommends the following:
- Avoid close contact with anyone sick with a cold or the flu.
- If you become sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has resolved except to get medical care. While you are ill, try to avoid contact with others so as not to infect them.
- When you cough or sneeze, remember to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. Toss the tissue in the trash immediately after you use it.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
In order not spread germs, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth while you are sick.
For more information: check out the Florida Department of Health website